Britain’s Labour plans to ‘rewire’ the country, ease grid delays

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour Party on Sunday said it would speed up connections to the country’s National Grid network as part of investment in clean energy infrastructure and to ease delays electricity companies face.

Labour leader Keir Starmer has put a green industrial strategy at the centre of his pitch for a national election expected next year, and has announced plans for a publicly owned energy company, GB Energy.

Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has acknowledged a first-come-first-served approach to the grid has left some firms waiting 14 years to connect, and said his finance minister will reform it.

Labour said that its plans “to rewire” Britain would remove barriers to connections and “facilitate the largest upgrade to national transmission infrastructure in a generation”.

“Talk to any business and they will tell you that the queue for grid connections is growing out of control, with more than 200 billion pounds ($244.76 billion) worth of privately-funded projects now stuck,” Rachel Reeves, Labour’s finance spokesperson, said in a statement ahead of the party’s conference in Liverpool, northern England.

“Labour will turbocharge our growth, get Britain building and unlock private sector investment by speeding up the grid.”

Labour said the plans would contribute to its overall target to cut 93 billion pounds from UK energy bills by 2030. 

The party also said it would end the “farcical situation” whereby renewable developers are paid up to 62 million pounds a day in public money to turn off their energy generation because the national grid is overwhelmed.

Under the plans, GB Energy will also coordinate the launch of tenders for the supply chain that the revamped grid system will need.

($1 = 0.8171 pounds)

(Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Barbara Lewis)